Filled sand bags vs. unfilled sand bags: which one should you buy?

Sandbags come in different forms. Two of their common forms are filled and unfilled sandbags. As their name suggests, a filled sandbag already contains sand, gravel, or any other form of material that can make it heavy, while an unfilled sandbag is empty from the inside and filled by the buyer later.

Since both forms of sandbags are totally different from each other, it often becomes difficult for people to pick one from them.

If you, too, are confused between a filled bag and an unfilled bag, this detailed guide of purchasing sandbags will tell you how both forms of sandbags differ from each other, and which one is more suitable for you.

What is a filled sandbag?

Filled bulk bags or bags of sand already have sand, soil, or a similar material mixed with gravel filled inside them. You will not have to add anything to them and will be able to use them as it is for different purposes such as ballast, flood control barrier, flood-protection wall, or erosion control sack.

They are pre-filled, meaning you will not have to use your energy and effort to fill them yourself. It will help you save time and use the tool for emergencies as it is.

These bags are heavier than unfilled bags because they have a heavy material inside them. That is why their transportation cost is more than the other form of the sand bag. They are heavier to lift. If they are big, the user may have to use a forklift to carry multiple poly bags from place to place.

They also require more storage areas. But, if you are working on a construction site and have unused sand that you want to keep uncontaminated, you can store the sand in the sandbag or even use sand present inside the burlap bags for other purposes.

What is an unfilled sandbag?

This form of the bulk bag does not have anything inside it and comes empty. It means you can fill it when the need arises with sand or any other material that you find more appropriate. These bags are available in different materials and can be found in the form of tote bags, jute bags, woven polypropylene bags, non-woven fabric bags, pp woven sacks, reusable polyethylene bags, jumbo bags, recycled PVC sacks, etc.

Since they are empty, they require less area for storage. You can stockpile them for emergency use. They will be useful even after years if you keep them dry and properly folded. They are lightweight due to which even one person can carry dozens of bags himself without needing the help of a transportation vehicle or another person. It helps save transportation costs. They are also more economical compared to the filled hessian bags.

However, you will have to either fill them yourself or hire workers to do the task for you. These heavy duty woven bags may also have straps and pouches that you can use for multiple purposes.

Which is better – A filled or unfilled sandbag?

Both forms of sand bags have their own benefits. However, unfilled sandbags have more pros than cons. They are cost-effective and can be reused for years if manufactured of sturdy material. You can store hundreds of sandbags in the corner of a room as they do not take much space. Their transportation is also simpler and easier. You do not need any vehicle to move them from area to area.Since they come empty, you can use them as packaging solutions such as potato sacks, wine bags, compost bags, feed bags, and even garbage sacks.They are sold in different non-woven or woven fabrics, including biodegradable muslin cloth, PVC plastic, polyester fabric, patented polypropylene fabric, laminated fabric, linen fabric, jute fabric, etc. This gives buyers plenty of options to choose from.

How to fill an unfilled sandbag?

Sandbagging is an efficient technique that people have been using for years for many different purposes. If you have purchased an empty tubular burlap sack, you need two people to fill it. Follow this step-by-step guide to fill sand in an empty sack bag.

Step 1: Wear gloves to protect your hands. If possible, wear safety goggles as well.

Step 2: Ask the other person to open the burlap bag such that its mouth is wide enough to allow entry of sand. They should place it either in front of their feet or in between them.

Step 3: Ask the other person to fold the opening of the woven bag such that you can empty a shovel full of sand easily into the bag. Make sure the knees of the other person are slightly flexed and their face is away from the sand-filled shovel.

Step 4: Empty the shovel inside the bag. Make sure it is done carefully so that spillage does not occur. Otherwise, you may have to spend time collecting the spillage as well.

Step 5: Fill the bag of sand one-half of its full capacity. Leave a little room empty so that the bag does not feel too heavy and can be stacked easily. Close its mouth with a zipper, rope, or anything else that is available with the bag.

Reasons to buy a sandbag

Sandbags have been used since the 18th century for different purposes. There are many uses of sandbags. You can buy them for any of the following use.

  • Sandbags are used to hold down traffic management or construction site signs that have a risk of moving away or falling down under the pressure of heavy rain or wind. Sandbags are placed on the feet of the sign. They do not let it move from its original place until they stay on their feet.
  • Sand bagging is done for flood prevention as well. National weather service providers inform people about the expected drought, tropical-storm, rainfall, and flash-flood so that people can build flood walls using sandbags to prevent damage caused by flood water or storm water.
  • They may also be used around a levee or a landfill as a boundary. Sandbags around a levee do not let the water come out of the water body when its level rises.
  • Burlap sacks and sandbags are laid on the soil, which has a risk of soil erosion. They prevent contact between water and soil and thus, control erosion.
  • In a garage gym, a strength coach uses this weightlifting tool during sandbag training for core-strength improvement and muscle building. Strength coaches make bodybuilders lift these tools during strength-training when they do squats or any other form of exercise.


Filled and unfilled sand bags are two popular forms of sand bags. Filled sand bags have pre-filled sand, soil, gravel, etc., inside their empty space, making them heavy.

In contrast, unfilled sand bags have empty space and do not have anything inside the bag. The buyer has to fill them himself or hire labourers to do the task.

Unfilled sand bags can be transported to the site without much trouble because they are lightweight. You can also store them in a small space after folding them properly. Safe storage allows people to keep sandbags stored for years and use them whenever they want.


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